Sustainable beef systems on arable units


Beef & Lamb
Project code:
01 May 2016 - 31 March 2020
AHDB Beef & Lamb
AHDB sector cost:
Total project value:
Project leader:

About this project

The Problem:

High costs and increasing competition for land means that starting or expanding beef enterprises can be challenging. Integrating beef enterprises into arable rotations provides new opportunities for both beef producers and arable farmers. For beef producers, this represents an opportunity for new entrants to the beef industry or for enterprise expansion. For arable farmers, beef cattle may be able to achieve the same or higher net margin per hectare compared to traditional arable rotations, with the additional benefits of better weed control and improved soil condition resulting from the establishment of grass leys.


Aims and Objectives:

The project will investigate the practical, economic, environmental and agronomic implications of integrating beef enterprises into arable systems on two farms in Cambridgeshire. Both sites will be grazed with ‘growing’ cattle for around 6 months with the aim to achieve >1kg DLWG at a value of £1/day to the beef operator



There are two sites, both of which are located in Cambridgeshire. Both fields are two be split into three sections consisting of grass ley mix, a herbal ley and the remaining area will remain in arable cropping to act as a control. Detailed measurements will be taken to assess the impact of grass ley and herbal ley on soil physico-chemical properties, black grass weed populations and yield benefits to the subsequent arable crop as well as assessments of livestock performance and a cost benefit analysis of integrating beef cattle into the arable enterprise.